Kirk Cousins' rumored reason for Vikings departure makes Michael Penix Jr. pick look even worse

The Atlanta Falcons' Michael Penix Jr. pick is exactly why Kirk Cousins left the Minnesota Vikings.
Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

It all comes full circle, I suppose. The NFL has a funny way of telling you your time might be coming to an end here soon. Although the Atlanta Falcons certainly had no problem in giving Kirk Cousins the bag in free agency, the biggest reason why he may have left the Minnesota Vikings in the first place actually came to fruition, not only in Minnesota, but in Atlanta as well. Oh, boy. What do we have here?

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated shared a thought about the Falcons' highly controversial first-round draft pick of Michael Penix Jr. on Monday. The 35-year-old quarterback was in the final year of his contract with the Vikings last season. They were very upfront with him about potentially drafting his replacement in the 2024 NFL Draft, even if he decided to stay. The Vikings picked up J.J. McCarthy.

By signing with Atlanta, Cousins seemed to think that he solved the Falcons' quarterback issues enough to the point where they weren't going to draft somebody. Well, nobody saw that coming, not even those who cover the sport professionally or follow along as closely as anyone. If Cousins knew Atlanta was going to take a quarterback, there is probably a good chance he may not have come.

Of course, Atlanta is also a team that can win now, and his wife Julie hails from nearby Alpharetta...

Kirk Cousins' biggest reason why he left Minnesota came true in Atlanta

Look. If there is any quarterback emotionally equipped to handle something like this, it is Cousins, a guy who was taken a few rounds later in the same 2012 NFL Draft by Washington after they traded up to get 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick. In time, Cousins proved to be the better pro quarterback. He is a few years away from serious Canton consideration.

So what he may have gone through in Washington on his first professional contract may help him be the leader Atlanta needs now, and in the future with Penix eventually slated to take over for him. There is one thing I think we all looked past in this with the Falcons. That is new head coach Raheem Morris' top priority of having a succession plan at quarterback. Morris demanded it all the way back in 2020.

See, when he was the Falcons' interim head coach after Dan Quinn's complete and utter coaching meltdown, Morris interviewed to be his permanent successor. He said that Matt Ryan was getting up there, which he was, and that Atlanta needed a succession plan. The Falcons opted to hire Arthur Smith instead of him. They went ahead without a succession plan. Then, Deshaun Watson happened.

That ill-fated attempt to get the former Falcons ball boy from Gainesville blew up in Arthur Blank's face big time. Ryan wanted out, and he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts. The Falcons drafted Desmond Ridder after signing Marcus Mariota in free agency. It was two years of mostly crap under center for the Falcons. While Taylor Heinicke remains, Ridder and Mariota are playing elsewhere now.

The big thing I keep going back to is yes, this may sting a bit for Cousins, but the NFL is short for Not For Long. Most people don't get to decide when their career is over. Ryan did technically retire as a Falcon a few weeks ago, but his hall-of-fame career did not end smoothly. Cousins has been a close approximation to Ryan in his pro career out of Michigan State, so we should expect the same for him.

Ultimately, the Falcons were always going to do what they were going to do. More often than not, it has been the wrong thing, but I think if it wasn't a complete shock factor, I think we may have been more open to Atlanta drafting Penix, just probably not at No. 8 overall. Atlanta is now fortunate to have the best quarterback situation in the NFC South with Cousins, Penix and Heinicke. Just go win it then!

If the Falcons can put hurt feelings aside, they could be on the cusp if their best season since 2017.

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